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Veterans Traveling Tribute CEO visits Ennis

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Carol Grey Honza

Freelance Reporter

ENNIS – On Monday, Jan.11, Don Allen, CEO of the American Veterans Traveling Tribute visited members of the "Welcome Home...Ennis Honors Her Heroes," the local Ennis event team which is paving the way to bring the Memorial Wall to Ennis.

The purpose for the meeting, held at the Quality Inn, was to give an overview of the planned events scheduled during the time the Veterans Memorial Wall will be in Ennis during the week of May 5th through the 9th of this year.

Allen spoke to the approximately 35 attendees, providing the scope and purpose of the Veteran’s event. "The purpose of the Traveling Wall is the chance for us to travel to many communities like this one [Ennis, in Ellis County], and the right of more communities like Ennis to come together to pay tribute to those men and women we have asked to defend and protect us. "Our exhibit is the tribute to any of those who have fallen, and it also represents any who have served, and continue to serve, and their families. "We believe the best way to pay tribute to these men and women is to celebrate with their families in their community.

It will be a celebration of the services of all veterans, law enforcement, fire personnel and first responders."

Allen covered the schedule of the five-day event in May, the particular necessities and specifications required of the Wall erection crew, and the volunteer and labor personnel needed to man the events.

He discussed the dimensions of the Wall, and the outline of event site.

"The Wall itself is 380 feet long and 8 ft. tall. It contains 58,000 names of Vietnam veterans, plus there are numerous other 8 ft. tall display panels containing various tributes to other Veteran conflicts — WWII, the Korean War and other wars and conflicts.

There will be a Commanders-In-Chief’s display, a Firefighters display, a MIA’s & POW’s display, a 9/11 display listing the names of all who were lost, a Gold Dog Tag display listing the casualties since Vietnam, a Gold Dog Tag display listing the casualties of the Global War on Terror, a display listing the casualties of the recent massacre at Ft. Hood, and other displays of military interest," he said.

He explained that the Wall site and displays will be lighted at night and will be open to the public 24 hours a day during the week-long event.

"There will be a large tent erected on-site with center stage for the numerous ceremonies, vigils and entertainment activities which will take place that week. There will be honorary wreaths placed on certain display locations at various times, and Reveille and Taps played at appropriate moments.

Computerized records of military personnel provided by AVTT may be accessed from an on-site manned computer base station, will be available to the public during the event. 24 hour site security will be necessary, he added."

"The primary sponsors for this event are the American Legion, Sons of American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary, and Junior Auxiliary Girls," said Marylyn Wylie, event coordinator.

"There are many members of the community who are also assisting with the plans and preparations, such as the VFW and VFW Auxiliary who will be providing food and drinks at the site.

Area volunteer fire fighters will be escorting the wall into Ennis.

Local business, municipal, school and county personnel involvement are primary resources we look for assistance, especially fire fighters and law enforcement personnel.

The talents of our local citizens and school children, including the Boys and Girl Scouting programs will be invited to participate in many ways during this event, added Wylie.

"Hundreds of bikers from the American Legion and members of the Patriot Guard from many areas will also be very involved with bringing the Wall into Ennis."

"We expect to see waves of bikers that entire week."

"They will certainly make an impact on Ennis - they are such great Patriots!"

"Highlighting this event — we plan to have a community-wide Patriotic Parade with floats and marching bands, etc. on Saturday, May 8.

We are working with all governmental entities to secure proper parade permits," said Wylie. The final day of the event, will be an all-faith service on Sunday morning at the Wall site, with an emphasis on honoring military Gold Star Mothers, and all local mothers [since that will be Mother’s Day], followed by the Patriot Guard’s private Honor Guard Service, in the afternoon, and the final closing ceremony will be a possible candle-light service just after dark – a final time to pay tribute to the names on the Wall, or to those on the displays, and to close the memorial events.

Allen concluded his part of the program by explaining how the dismantling of the Wall would be completed on Monday, May 10th, and the procedures for closing the event and moving the Wall out of Ennis that day.

Marylyn Wylie added, "There will be many opportunities for all citizens of Ennis and the surrounding communities to come together in the spirit of volunteerism to provide the services and necessities needed, at many levels, for the success of this event – a major community-wide tribute to honor her heroes." The meeting closed with a short prayer by former military chaplain, Reverend George Rogers of Anthony Drive Baptist Church.

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